ISSUED: 3 May 2021
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University senior nursing students have played a role in helping people in Berkeley and Morgan counties receive their COVID-19 tests and vaccines. Twenty-six students earned clinical hours helping administer the tests and vaccines in Martinsburg and Berkeley Springs, working with staff from the Berkeley and Morgan county health departments, Shepherd University Health Center, and Shenandoah Community Health. In addition, the students also helped with testing both at Shepherd and off campus.
“They were honored and proud to be part of these mass vaccination clinics,” said Dr. Barbara Spencer, clinical educator for the Population Health class. “They have learned a lot because they worked as outdoor greeters, navigators helping people through the system, registering patients, directing patients to their vaccine table, giving vaccinations, being scribes, and in the recovery area. So, they saw the whole process from beginning to end.”
Spencer said participating in the vaccine clinics showed the students that many agencies must work together to make massive undertakings such as vaccination clinics happen.
Nursing students who participated include Alexis Bevins, Brooke Fausey, Sherene Jackson, Hannah Lowe, Sydney Shaw, and Makailee Wood, Martinsburg; Heather Cole, Richard Martinez, and Nicole Wunder, Harpers Ferry; Kadene Fair and Sarah Grega, Charles Town; Peyton Connor, Hedgesville; Tessa Myers, Kearneysville; Aleah Shadle, Middleway; Vanessa James and Kelvin Stubbs, Ranson; Maria José “MJ” Acevedo-Cabrera, Shepherdstown; Ashely Rohrbaugh and Samantha Simon, Petersburg; Sydney Park, Romney; Leighia Masse, Slanesville; Alexis Crook, Brunswick, Maryland; Astrid Cordero-Nieves, Middletown, Maryland; Moriah King, Cumberland, Maryland; Danielle Tiller, Winchester, Virginia; and Cheyenne Burgett, Greencastle, Pennsylvania.
“I think it’s great experience and a great environment,” said Alexis Crook, who plans to work on a med surg stroke floor after graduation. “It’s amazing to be able to be a part of history. I find helping people get their COVID vaccines is super fulfilling as a future nurse.”
Sarah Grega plans to work at Berkeley Medical Center in the intensive care unit and believes participating in the vaccine clinics will benefit her in her career. She had several jobs at the clinics, including greeter, scribe, and vaccinator.
“I truly felt like I was able to make a difference,” Grega said. “I was able to be a part of the solution in the hope of seeing an end to this pandemic one day.”
Sydney Park plans to work at Meritus Medical Center in the recovery center after graduation. She served as a scribe and vaccinator at the clinics and went to high-rise senior housing to administer vaccines.
“It was really nice to be able to do that—to give back to the community,” Park said. “Everybody was so appreciative. They were just so thankful that they were finally able to receive the vaccine and there was some light at the end of the tunnel.”
Richard Martinez plans to begin his career at the Berkeley Medical Center med surg unit. The retired U.S. Navy veteran served in Iraq and Afghanistan and views the battle against COVID-19 as essential.
“Being in the fight is what I like to do and to me it was great because I was finally able to get into this fight,” Martinez said. “I always feel if you see something that’s going on you almost have an obligation if you have the ability to jump in and I did.”
Maria José “MJ” Acevedo-Cabrera, whose goal is to be a critical care nurse, worked at the clinics as a greeter, scribe, and vaccinator.
“It was neat to be part of the movement here in West Virginia,” Acevedo-Cabrera said. “It’s an awesome thing to say I am part of the movement in one of the number one states with the vaccination clinics. Hopefully we’re getting a little closer to normal and to putting this behind us.”
Dr. Sharon Mailey, dean, College of Nursing, Education, and Health Sciences, and director, School of Nursing, pointed out that Shepherd nursing students are part of a large, community-wide effort to vaccinate as many people as possible so society can return to normal.
“As Vivian Greene tells us, ‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain,’” Mailey said. “We’re all in this together and together we’re making a difference. We are proud of our nursing graduates, our students, and faculty as they are frontline heroes committed in the fight against this pandemic. Please do your part—get vaccinated, wear a mask, wash your hands, and social distance. Together we will make a bright tomorrow.”
— 30 —